Michael K. Williams has died at age 54, Us Weekly confirms. The late actor was found by a relative in his Brooklyn apartment on Monday, September 6.
“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams,” his rep told The Hollywood Reporter. “They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”
The New York native was best known for playing Omar in The Wire from 2002 to 2008, as well as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire from 2010 to 2014. Williams also starred in 12 Years a Slave and When They See Us.
Most recently, the Emmy nominee acted in Lovecraft Country. He told Deadline in July that filming the HBO show got him “in touch with [his] deeper trauma.”
He explained at the time: “I know that I have trauma with my past experiences of life – things that have happened to me, things that I have done, bad choices. I live that and I’m working through it. Montrose as well as the other members of his family, they are the epitome of the Black experience. As Black Americans we live such levels of trauma and oppression from the outside world and from each other. For Montrose’s experiences, his storylines to be recognized, it makes me as a Black man feel seen.”
Williams hoped for “healing” to come out of the experience “in some weird way,” adding, “It makes me feel like someone is acknowledging the fact that there is a lot of pain in my community and in the experience of just being Black.”
While Lovecraft Country received 18 Emmy nominations for its 1st season, the show was not renewed.
Williams did not “know why” that choice was made, telling Deadline, “I just believe that Lovecraft Country did what it came to do, which was start the conversation of changing the narrative.”
The Bessie star started his acting career in music videos, but his success “changed immediately” after he was cut in the face in a bar fight.
“Directors didn’t want me just to dance in the videos anymore. They wanted me to act out these thug roles,” Williams told NPR in 2014. “‘Mike, roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video.’ I was like, ‘All right.’ Tupac Shakur was filming a movie in New York called Bullet opposite Mickey Rourke, and the production office that they were working out of in New York happened to have a Polaroid picture of me from me going to audition from some various music videos. So he happened to see a Polaroid picture of me and was like, ‘Yo, this dude looks thugged out enough that he could play my little brother.” I think he saw my pain and my struggle, my heart. I was star struck.”
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